abour has unveiled pledges to double the number of diagnostic scanners in hospitals and get tough on property developers as the party sets out its stall on health and housing ahead of its conference in Liverpool.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner promised the party would deliver the “biggest boost to affordable housing for a generation” in an interview with the Guardian outlining proposals for planning reform.
Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour would funnel £171 million a year into a “fit for the future” fund for purchasing new equipment to cut NHS waiting times.
Renewing his warning that the service must “modernise or die”, he told the Times the money would be enough to double the number of CT and MRI scanners in the NHS over a parliament, so patients get diagnosed with conditions earlier.
New equipment would have inbuilt artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic tools and would be funded by scrapping the non-dom tax status.
It comes as MPs, delegates and lobbyists gather in Liverpool this weekend for five days of policy debate, rallies and networking at what could be Labour’s last conference before a general election expected next year.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer will head to the annual gathering buoyed by a comfortable lead in the polls and a resounding by-election victory over the SNP in Scotland’s Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat.
His deputy Ms Rayner, who is also shadow levelling up secretary, will use her main speech to pledge “a decent job, a secure home and a strong community” for all under a Labour government.
The Opposition’s plan for secure homes to “end the Tories’ housing emergency” will also feature, following an interview in the Guardian in which she promised to prevent developers “wriggling out” of their affordable housing obligations, known as section 106 rules.
Under its proposals, Labour said it would set up a new expert unit to give councils and housing associations advice to get the best deal during negotiations with property firms.
It would publish guidance that would effectively restrict developers to challenging 106 rules only if there were genuine barriers to building homes.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will take to the main stage on Monday to detail how Labour would revive the sluggish economy, before Sir Keir’s keynote address on Tuesday.
The Labour Party women’s conference will take place in Liverpool on Saturday, the day before the main events get under way.
The gathering follows the Conservatives’ conference in Manchester, which was overshadowed by the fate of HS2.
Mr Sunak defied senior Tories and business leaders to scrap the rail line from Birmingham to Manchester, saying “the facts have changed” and the cost of the high-speed rail scheme had “more than doubled”.
Sir Keir has said Labour cannot commit to reversing the decision if it wins the next general election due to the “damage” done by the Government.
The Tories urged him to clarify his position on HS2, as well as his support for a raft of transport schemes announced by Mr Sunak in place of the cancelled leg.
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “We all know Keir Starmer won’t tell us his plans if he becomes prime minister because he’s afraid of losing votes, and he changes his position to whatever he thinks people want to hear.
“Our country faces an important choice: Rishi Sunak, who will make the hard but necessary long-term decisions to get the country on the right path for the future, or Sir Keir Starmer, who is just like the same old politicians that have come before – always focused on the short-term and lacking the backbone to make the big changes Britain needs.”
Mr Streeting in turn attacked what he claimed was a governing party appearing “in hock to cranks, crackpots and conspiracy theorists on the right” after the Tory conference saw a minister claim Labour was “relaxed about taxing meat” and another rail against “sinister” 15-minute cities.
“I think there will be many decent, mainstream longstanding Conservative supporters who looked in on the Conservative Party conference this week and wondered what on earth happened to the party of Churchill,” he told the Times.
Ahead of the conference, which carries the slogan “Let’s get Britain’s future back”, Ms Rayner said: “With five prime ministers in seven years and constant chaos and instability, Britain’s future has been left to take a back seat. The Tories’ legacy is national decline – a nation levelled down and starved of hope.
“While the Tories have stolen Britain’s future, it’s Labour that will give it back with our plan to make working people better off by securing growth for all people and in all places.”